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Iman Shumpert cleared for full contact in practice, near return

Jan 8, 2013, 11:08 AM EDT

New York Knicks v New Jersey Nets Getty Images

Iman Shumpert is close to returning to the New York Knicks.

He tweeted that the doctors have cleared him for full contact practices, which is the last step to getting back on the court for games. He worked out for team doctors and officials before Monday night’s game against the Celtics and apparently that went well. Go through a couple full practices and if his knee is fine he is back.

Which is good news for the Knicks. Even though nobody should expect him to come back playing exactly like he did before his injury, his presence on the perimeter should help the Knicks defense. And that is the area they need help — they are 18th in the NBA in points allowed per possession (via Hoopdata). They are winning regular season games because their offense is so good, but in the playoffs they will not last long without better, more consistent defense. They can do it, they gave up 5 fewer points per 100 possessions last season. They have Tyson Chandler in the paint to anchor that defense.

Shumpert back on the court will help with that.

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